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Stand out from the crowd: How to write a winning CV

Did you know?
UK Employers receive an average of 60 applications for every advertisement for low skilled jobs, and 20 for every skilled job. According to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, almost half are perfectly suitable for the job.

So, how do you make your CV stand out?
Although it’s a great idea to keep a one-size-fits-all template CV on hand throughout your career in case you should ever need to whip up a profile quickly, most people need to start from scratch when they apply for a new role. There are three quick rules you can stand by when starting off:

1. Keep it short and snappy:
Your CV needs to be short enough for an employer to scan quickly, with key points made clear. Two pages of an A4 is more than enough.

2. Make it neat and tidy:
Format your CV clearly and neatly as it’s easy to judge a book by its cover. Make sure to check spelling, grammar and punctuation. You can avoid sloppy errors by getting a friend to check over your CV before sending.

3. Tailor it to the role you’re applying for:
Generic CVs are more obvious than you think. If a role focuses on communication & leadership – make sure you focus on these strengths in your CV.

What do I include in my CV?

Although you should tailor every CV you send, there are a few important details to always include:

Personal Details: You’d be surprised how many people forget to include their full name, email, contact phone number and address. Present these clearly at the top of your CV.
Personal Statement: This is your elevator pitch. Tell the recruiter in one paragraph, and make it tailored. ‘An adaptable team player with communication and leadership skills’ isn’t an original sentence – even if you are all those things. Who are you? Why are you suitable for this job?

Order: There’s no wrong or right order to a CV. Education? Work Experience? Volunteering? It doesn’t matter. What matters is putting what’s most relevant first. So if your trump card is a course you did – put your education first. If it’s 5 years in similar role – that should be number one.

Work experience: List all relevant work experience with the most recent first, and keep it succinct. Include title, length of time in post, job title and key responsibilities. List relevant and impressive achievements – linking your skills with clear examples that will be applicable to the new role.

Education: List educational experience and achievements including dates and grades if applicable. Remember, this isn’t just a ‘school’ section – if you’ve done other courses – in leadership, in first aid, in origami- if it’s relevant, emphasise it.

Hobbies and interests: be careful on this section. Don’t say something for the sake of it- discussing your recent travels to Ibiza and your love of French cinema is unlikely to impress at this stage. You can bring out personality at interview. At CV stage, only mention relevant or useful skills that will add value.

Anything else? If there is anything on your CV that will raise questions, make sure you answer them. Why is there a gap in your working history? Why did you only work for a company for 3 months? Why are you London based but applying for an Edinburgh role? The answers may seem obvious to you (maternity leave, a short term contract, you’re relocating) but avoid looking sloppy by filling in the recruiter.

Got the interview? Didn’t get the job? We have lots of useful blogs and articles for the next step here.

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